Music Picks: Talib Kweli, Pete Yorn, Lucy Schwartz
@ Glass House (Pomona)
[See Page Two]
@ SANTA MONICA PIER
Well, it was bound to happen. All the living members of N.W.A are reuniting for a one-time-only free show at the Santa Monica Pier, with Odd Future's Tyler the Creator re-enacting Eazy-E's raps in character. The event is a benefit for the charity Rappers Against Tsunamis, with all proceedings going to R.A.T.'s outreach work training at-risk youth on tidal-wave prevention. Warning: Triple-check your calendars to make sure you understand which day this is happening — you really don't wanna be fooled driving all the way to Santa Monica on the wrong date. —Weir F. Nwitcha
Uh Huh Her, Diamonds Under Fire
@ EL REY THEATRE
Naming one's band after a PJ Harvey album is really just asking for it. But L.A.'s Uh Huh Her dodge criticism by making music that sounds nothing like their ostensible inspiration. Instead, the duo focus on dancey beats and synthesizer licks, with guitar as moody coloring and vocals that coo sexily rather than cry sassily. Plus, there are other, more interesting distractions than the band's name. For instance, the fact that singer Leisha Hailey is best known as The L Word's Alice Pieszecki, or that multi-instrumentalist Camila Grey moonlights in American Idol Adam Lambert's band. All of this goes to explain what Uh Huh Her do well — a combination of against-the-grain grit and pop ambition that, live, delivers a little snarl and a lot of swoon. —Chris Martins
Robyn Hitchcock, Jon Brion, Grant-Lee Phillips
Let us mix and match three exponents of what might be called the singer-songwriter genre, sit back, compare and contrast. Robyn Hitchcock — English, ex–Soft Boys, somewhat surrealist, prone in the past to mildly psychedelic, witty, melancholic ditties about Sex, Food, Death and Tarantulas. Largo house man/multi-instrumentalist/big-star producer/film score composer Jon Brion — encyclopedic pop historian, also purveyor of beautifully melodicized originals and inspiredly skewered cover versions. Grant-Lee Phillips — jack-of-all-talents, crafter of nicely pensive ballads and densely detailed roots-Americana, ripped masterfully out on his 12-string guitar. Let us do that. —John Payne
The Pinker Tones, Ceci Bastida
@ NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM
The Pinker Tones' cheery, cheeky synth-pop anthems are so vibrantly sunny, they might even bring life back to the poor critters trapped behind glass in this macabre museum's dusty taxidermy exhibits. The Barcelona trio's perky rhythms camouflage subversively witty lyrics on their latest album, Modular, including "Sampleame," where Mister Furia and Professor Manso slyly diss unimaginative poachers who sample other musicians' ideas. On the new-wave travelogue "Tokyo," they echo the stranger-in-a-strange-land tourism of Sparks' "Aeroflot," singing in English, "In my room, I was lost in translation/Then I get lost in my imagination." Although Mexican singer Ceci Bastida's art-pop experiments aren't as hard-rocking as her early work with the ska-punk rebels Tijuana No, they reveal more depth and, yes, imagination than recent albums by her longtime collaborator Julieta Venegas. —Falling James
@ BOOTLEG THEATER
The Icelandic keyboardist composes gentle, exceedingly delicate instrumental passages. On such languorous tracks as "Kjurrt" and "Undan Hulu," beautiful slivers of violin well up over his spare crumbles of piano like fading sunlight reflecting from glacial ice. The tempos also are glacial, as if Arnalds were writing a soundtrack to accompany long winter nights in the Arctic Circle. Think of his music as the instrumental equivalent to the Swell Season's laid-back lullabies. —Falling James
Pulse Out, J Irvín D, Geoff Geiss
L.A.'s Pulse Out is new on the scene but not entirely unfamiliar. The unsigned four-piece smashes together surf rock, angular punk and power pop, then tops it off with twee, Belle & Sebastian–style vocals detailing the ups and (mostly) downs of love. It's both high-energy and high on emotion, which means it's best experienced live. Make sure not to miss J Irvín D: Falling somewhere between Andrew Bird and Bright Eyes, this troubadour offers both bright folksy jangle and the darker introspective stuff, often coating all with a glaze of homespun electronic atmosphere. Geoff Geiss (Pizza!, Big Whup) gets his solo, lo-fi lonely man on. —Chris Martins
Also playing Friday:
GANGI, DREAMTAPES at Origami Vinyl; THE SANDWITCHES, SONNY & THE SUNSETS at the Echo; DIERKS BENTLEY at Club Nokia; LAUREN PRITCHARD at Hotel Café; VAINS OF JENNA at Whisky a Go Go; THOMAS ADÈS at Walt Disney Concert Hall; UPSILON ACRUX at the Smell.
Paid Dues Festival
@ NOS EVENTS CENTER
Last year Los Angeles MC Murs went largely local with his annual Paid Dues Festival, booking Ice Cube to top a bill that also included Tha Dogg Pound and Freestyle Fellowship. This time dude's looking eastward — not only to New York, home of headliners Black Star and Immortal Technique, but to Texas (former UGK rapper Bun B), Providence (poetry slam veteran Sage Francis) and Pennsylvania (frat-rap wiseacre Asher Roth). Not that California won't represent: Bay Area hyphy pioneer E-40 is scheduled to perform, as are L.A.'s Nipsey Hussle and, of course, Murs himself. You'll also see Lil B (the one, the only Based God!), whose home away from the Internet is Berkeley and who will gladly schtupp your biotch if you beg nicely. Still, you can tell Murs is thinking big this year — indie rap as a mindset rather than a scene or a statement of fact. —Mikael Wood
@ HOTEL CAFÉ
Unlike so many young, 20-something pop divas, Lucy Schwartz actually has something to say. The melodies, lyrics and arrangements on her second album, Life in Letters, reveal a sophistication and clear-eyed wisdom that belie her years. Although producer Mitchell Froom tends to smooth out her artier edges, much of Schwartz's spirit and sensitivity still come through his mix, such as the imaginative rounds of harmonies that surround her on "Rain City." The local singer is best known for duetting with Landon Pigg on "Darling I Do," from Shrek Forever After, and she also has recorded with Aqualung's Matt Hales, but she proves that she can stand on her own with thoughtfully crafted original songs like "I Want the Sky" and "Those Days." —Falling James
@ Bridges Auditorium (Claremont)
Ever wonder what Nuremberg Rallies would have felt like if they had been held during spring break in Cancun, and instead of worshipping Hitler they'd worshipped booze? Wonder no more. —Gustavo Turner
Also playing Saturday:
STEVE AOKI at the Hollywood Palladium, BIRDS & BATTERIES at Pehrspace; BUYEPONGO at the Troubadour; BILL FRISELL TRIO at UCLA's Royce Hall; LMFAO at Bridges Auditorium (Claremont).
Talib Kweli, David Banner, 9th Wonder
@ CLUB NOKIA
Mississippian David Banner's snarling, sexually explicit hits (a sampling: "Play," an ode to aerobic sex whose chorus was artfully reworked from "come, girl" to "run, girl" for radio; also, "Like a Pimp") mashed up with 9th Wonder's signature soul production results in an unusual marriage. But Banner made a pointed decision to move in a different direction when he teamed up with 9th, and the two created a classy, socially charged affair with last year's Death of a Pop Star. Makes sense, then, that they're opening for Talib Kweli, who's been wearing the "conscious rapper" badge since his Black Star days with Mos Def. In fact, his next album, Prisoner of Conscious, is a reference to (shedding?) such. Maybe Kweli's switching roles with Banner for the night? —Rebecca Haithcoat
Die! Die! Die!
@ THE ECHO
Although the New Zealand trio Die! Die! Die! was formed in 2003, the band's music recalls the early '80s heyday of Flying Nun label mates Bailter Space, the Verlaines and Straitjacket Fits (whose singer, Shayne Carter, produced Die! Die! Die!'s second album, Promises, Promises). While Die! Die! Die! don't have the stylistic range of Kiwi legends The Clean, their songs marry punk rock intensity with a hazy melodicism. Singer Andrew Wilson thrashes his guitar to create a blurrily impressionistic backing on tracks like the aptly titled "Daze." His droning chimes elevate the songs from punk formula into something dreamier, as drummer Michael Prain and bassist Lachlan Anderson dice up the rhythms with unusual accents. They make a rare stateside appearance tonight at Part Time Punks, debuting songs from their latest album, Form. —Falling James
@ ORIGAMI VINYL
A solo singer-songstress with an impossibly intimate croon, Haroula Rose should sound divine raining down acoustic notes and lyrics about love from the tiny loft overlooking Echo Park's Origami record shop. The L.A.-via-Chicago artist covers impressive ground on her just-out debut album, These Open Roads, from the bare-bones Topanga Canyon folk on "Brand New Start," to the Jenny Lewis–like alt-country of "Another Breakup Ballad," to her cover of "Duluth" by Mason Jennings. It makes a lot of sense that longtime Saddle Creek affiliate Andy Lemaster produced the album, and it doesn't hurt that he wrangled contributions from members of Azure Ray and Drive-By Truckers, among others. Still, Miss Rose should have no problem winning the hearts of both the familiar and uninitiated all by her lonesome. —Chris Martins
Also playing Sunday:
AMAROK at Blvd. Cafe; DAN BERN at Bootleg Theater; TAKACS QUARTET, NOBUYUKI TSUJII at UCLA's Royce Hall.
Puro Instinct, So Many Wizards
@ THE ECHOPLEX
The brainchild of sisters Piper and Skylar Kaplan, this band has a laid-back, dreamy, ambient sound that reminds you of AM radio pop played on a summer day. They've also named an EP after a Soviet-era Russian word for "hipster." —Kristina Benson
The Silk Road Ensemble With Yo Yo Ma
@ WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL
The World Music Series at Disney Hall treks on with a performance by the Silk Road Ensemble and the group's founder, cellist Yo Yo Ma. The program offers an intriguing mélange of contemporary and traditional sounds from Asia, Europe and the Americas, including Argentine-American composer Osvaldo Golijov's Air to Air, a cook pot of Christian-Arab and Muslim-Arab, Mexican and 18th-century Sardinian songs/sonorities, along with new pieces by members of the SRE and Berkeley composer Gabriela Lena Frank; her ¡Chayraq!: Rough Guide to a Modern Day Tawantinsuyu makes reference to the music of indigenous festivals, religious ceremonies and harvest fiestas of Latin America. Tonight's lineup of the Silk Road Ensemble features several players who rank as giants. —John Payne
Also playing Monday:
AMANDA JO WILLIAMS at the Echo; RUMSPRINGA, WHITE ARROWS at Bootleg Theater.
@ BOOTLEG THEATER
With a voice made for R&B and a background in classical training, Brooklyn's Angel Deradoorian is best known as one of the two female sirens in the highly ambitious and technically proficient Dirty Projectors art-pop experiment. As a solo artist, Deradoorian hasn't released much, but her 2009 EP Mind Raft displays an ear for the equally edgy yet enjoyable — a slightly darker mix of orchestral buzz, soulful vocals, electronic elements and clean guitar. The layering is a little bit looser and the transitions less abrupt, so expect to snuggle up inside of a deep, cathartic groove. Drawlings is Abby Portner, sister of Animal Collective's Avey Tare, who sings like a child trapped in a music box. —Chris Martins
Also playing Tuesday:
WHITE SEA, SEVEN SATURDAYS at the Satellite; NEIL FINN at El Rey Theatre; OSTAD ABBOS KOSIMOV at REDCAT.
@ THE ECHO
If the cover photo of an erupting volcano doesn't do it (L. Ron Hubbard would have been proud), the title of Akron/Family's new album should alert you to the type of band you're dealing with here: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT, it's called. But wait, come back! Though they definitely indulge all manner of dirty-hippie drum-circle bullshit, these Brooklyn-born freak-folk oddballs hang that ornamentation on honest-to-Jah songs with choruses and everything. That said, tonight's show is likely to emphasize the band's jammier tendencies; air drummers are presumably welcome. With New Jersey's Delicate Steve, whose frequently delightful new Luaka Bop disc, Wondervisions, should appeal to fans of such prog-pop predecessors as Heavy Vegetable and Menomena. —Mikael Wood
@ THE WILTERN
Since 2009 Yorn has released two studio discs (including a self-titled effort produced by Frank Black of the Pixies), as well as an appealingly tossed-off duets record with Scarlett Johansson. For this show, though, the L.A.-based singer-songwriter will look back to his 2001 debut, musicforthemorningafter, which just received a double-disc 10th-anniversary reissue; it's still the place to find Yorn's best songs, such as "Life on a Chain" and "Strange Condition." If he encores with tunes from other albums, request "Burrito," from 2003's Day I Forgot: Last time I saw him play, Yorn called that one "possibly the most misunderstood song in my catalog." With baby-faced indie-pop cutie Ben Kweller. —Mikael Wood
Piney Gir, Little Hurricane
@ SILVERLAKE LOUNGE
Piney Gir is the country-rock persona of British electronica artist Angela Penhaligon. Instead of coming off as a hokey dilettante, Penhaligon is surprisingly persuasive as a down-home diva. She manages to invoke roots-rock tradition without appearing mannered or in the thrall of retro clichés, imbuing her tunes with a charming lilt and modern arrangements. Little Hurricane are an intriguing coed blues-rock duo from San Diego, with singer-drummer C.C. exchanging romantic pleas with singer-guitarist Tone like a less-mannered version of the Dead Weather. While their lyrics are sometimes unremarkable, Little Hurricane make up for it with plenty of sexual tension and feverish atmosphere. —Falling James
Also playing Wednesday:
PRINCETON at Bootleg Theater; RADEMACHER, SWEATERS at the Satellite.
Young Dro, Pac Div, Killer Mike, Dee 1
@ KEY CLUB
Even though Young Dro contributed "Shoulder Lean" to Atlanta's mid-decade, dance-crazed, hip-hop jingle rock, an unfortunate series of mishaps left his mentor T.I. dealing with rehabbing his own image rather than building someone else's. Killer Mike, who recently joined Dro on T.I.'s record label, also has shuffled around ATL for most of the aughts, appearing both on OutKast records and Adult Swim cartoons. L.A.'s own Pac Div had been curiously quiet until delivering the mixtape Mania! in March but always makes good on 'Pac's claim that California knows how to party. New Orleans newcomer Dee 1, a former schoolteacher, rounds out the bunch with some conscious rapper cool. Being off the scene makes you mean. Expect ferocious energy to be unfurled from all. —Rebecca Haithcoat
Timur & the Dime Museum
@ SILVERLAKE LOUNGE
The Kazakh-American singer Timur Bekbosunov and his mini orchestra have a merry time putting an old-world twist to songs by Radiohead, David Bowie and even the local underground-pop prince Kristian Hoffman. While so many other performers have made a predictable career out of turning punk and alt-rock standards into kitschy cocktail-lounge remakes, Bekbosunov usually avoids cheap comedy through the force of his operatic tenor and the stylish way his band reimagines the melodies. That's not to say there isn't an air of campiness in his remake of Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "I Put a Spell on You," but the laughs are counterbalanced by Bekbosunov's eerily chilling delivery. —Falling James
Rise Against, Descendents
@ LONG BEACH ARENA
Punk rock's magnetic vitriol and admirable, status quo–questioning messages have all too often been blunted by boring beats, predictable chord progressions and dull song structures. So it's little wonder that veteran Chicagoans Rise Against have been cleaning up in the genre of late. Even their recent hit singles duck and dive with musicality beneath Tim McIlrath's hoarse railing. Rise Against's tireless activism-by-example only makes them all the more irresistible (and welcome) as anti-Kardashian culture icons. Hermosa Beach's Descendents absolutely wrote the nerd-punk rule book with 1996 single "I'm the One," a perfect two minutes of hair-tearing pop with unrequited love lyrics that make Rivers Cuomo look like Tommy Lee. —Paul Rogers
Also playing Thursday:
BRITISH SEA POWER at the Troubadour; IMELDA MAY at El Rey Theatre; SUBMARINES at Detroit Bar; SEASICK STEVE at Bootleg Theater.
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